One of the things Melbourne is known for in the Australian underworld is a long history of professional contract killers.
Men who finance hobbies such as breeding Poodles or painting landscapes through a murder-for-hire business.
Have a problem with drug debts and need a solution? Dial +613 MEL-BURN. Got a loud mouth trying to expose you? Head south and a killer will be waiting.
Look in the classified section of the local newspaper and you might even find one advertising his services. Have gun, will travel…. Some might even offer to put your guy through a meat mincer.
But what happens when your hitman falls through the roof?
In gangland code, “falling through the roof” is slang for either being exposed, on the radar or “tumbling” to police investigators.
Depending on how you gauge the situation, recently one very lucky (or unlucky) hitman fell through the roof in a much more literal sense. While on a job, a yet to named contract killer thought of a cunning plan that involved hiding out in the target’s ceiling. That way he could watch through the air vents and wait until he had the all clear, before shooting his target through a small hole in the plaster and making his getaway.
A good plan?
Not really. Not when the job is located in a much hotter part of the country and you forget to bring a water bottle or at least some form of hydration, and temperatures in the roof space soar to 70c (158f) by midday. The plan is especially not so good when your target has multiple visitors who sit in the lounge room smoking dope for several hours, apparently not going anywhere, and eventually your hitman passes out from exhaustion and literally falls through the ceiling into the target’s lounge room, covered in plaster dust.
It would be reasonable to assume a degree of surprise occurred in that room, with some stranger suddenly crashing through the roof and landing on the floor. Had a sky diver landed off course? Was it a weird case of suicide gone wrong or an alien sent from outer space, crashing through the roof like a human meteor? And what was he doing covered in white powder…? Was it Cocaine? That would be some major gift from the Weed Gods. Maybe Santa Claus came early but missed the chimney?
But hang on… it wasn’t even close to Christmas.
After the surprise wore off, no doubt the target got the message. Someone had been dispatched to kill him. The only problem was the hitman had fallen through the roof and now lay dazed, dehydrated and completely covered in plaster with half a dozen people, all stoned after a three-hour bong session, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Two important things happened next. First, the hitman mustered enough strength to get off the floor and run for it. Having spent so long in the roof, he knew the house floor plans and quickly headed toward the front door. Second, because his target and visitors were all completely stoned and possibly still in shock (or reeling in laughter) and because the Santa Claus-pretender was covered in so much plaster dust, none of the people in the house were able to react fast enough to catch or recognise him. At least that’s what they told police.
In any event, the alien-sky-diving-hit-man who fell through the roof got away and lived to tell the tale, even if nobody knows who he is. For now anyway.
The same can’t be said for others who have fallen through the roof.
Take the still partially unsolved case of a rural politician named Donald McKay, who lobbied for several years against an Italian mafia drug syndicate operating in a country town known as Griffith. So fed up with McKay’s intrusion on their business, the Calabrian wing of the N’Draghita (honoured society) did what any honourable society with a problem would do; they sent a scout to Melbourne to hire a contract killer. The man they employed was Frank Beazley, who went by the creative yet vague name of ‘Fred’, worked alone, billed his clients on a 50/50 up front / on result basis, and had a few restrictions on his targets; no police, no kids and no animals.
Beazley bred Poodles for a hobby and loved dogs. If his targets had a dog, as was the case for a Kiwi couple killed for tumbling to police inquiries into the Mr Asia Drug Ring, he would take it to a shelter or give the animal away “free to a good home”. He wouldn’t kill the dog.
Eventually Beazley fell through the roof as well, having been named by the scout who worked for the mafia and originally hired him to kill Donald McKay. Beazley is in prison for other murders also, but Donald McKay’s body has never been found and the case remains partially unsolved.
Another infamous hitman born and raised in Melbourne was a self-described psycho who named himself “Rent-a-Kill”. If ever there was a poster boy for contract killers with loud mouths, large cocaine addictions and big guns, Christopher Dale Flannery was it. While men like Beazley operated discreetly and kept to themselves, Flannery was a different kind of killer. He lavished the attention and infamy, along with the money, drugs and women that came with it.
Although he may have described himself as “psycho”, he was not in the pure definition a psychopath, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous. Unlike Beazley, who had limitations on what jobs he’d accept, Flannery would kill anyone, who in his own words wasn’t a Koala bear, or a “protected species”.
Normally a protected species would include police and children, but not for Flannery. Mr Rent-a-Kill had no line in the sand at all and because of that his career as a contract killer was never going to last long. The below montage clip portrays Flannery at the height of his killing years.
Not surprisingly Mr Rent-a-Kill eventually fell through the roof also, although only a few people alive today know exactly which roof that is or where his body remains.
In the late 1990′s and into the millennium, Melbourne had another problem. Along with having a long list of up-and-coming young men willing to kill for money and take the reigns from the old school, the mass release of drug bosses on remand due to police corruption allegations meant that the city suddenly had too many drug traffickers all competing for the same apple pie.
Enter the fame-chasing era of contract killing and one of the notorious and publicly known hitmen in recent times.
Andrew “Benji” Venimin, bodyguard and gun for hire suspected of shooting at least 20 people in a five year period, started a fashion in tribal tattoos that are now the hallmark of gangsters (and envy of gangster loving women) the world over. Unlike Rent-a-Kill, Benji had lines in the sand. He never shot cops or kids or any other protected species, but his benchmark for what a protected species included didn’t extend far enough.
In the underworld, there may not be much loyalty, but there is royalty, those who have shown “dash” (courage) over the years to survive and earn respect without breaking the rules and knowing when to slow down, even in the fast lane. One man who earned such status was an old school safe breaker named Graeme “the Munster” Kinniburgh. Due to his links to a rival faction, Benji was dispatched by his boss (nick named Fat Boy) to kill a member of Melbourne’s underworld royalty. After this occurred, Benji was summoned to a restaurant in little Italy and an argument took place with the Munster’s long time friend and fellow royal, Mick Gatto.
During the argument, a gun was drawn and Benji fell through the roof. Unlike the sky-diving-alien who fell through the ceiling and landed on the floor, covered in plaster dust, Benji ended up covered in blood. The following News clip shows the moment Benji’s boss found out his number one gunner had fallen through the roof.
Another Melbourne raised contract killer whose name remains suppressed for legal reasons and can be referred to only as “the Runner”, on account of his tenancy to park a getaway car several kilometres from his target, then jog or run to and from the job, fell through the roof in a different way. After killing for his boss (Fat Boy) on numerous occasions, including the public execution of another underworld royal in front of his kids and an entire oval of children playing football, his boss failed to pay anywhere near what he owed, a figure well into the millions.
Police used this breach of contract as leverage after arresting and charging “the Runner” for murder, and eventually he “tumbled” through the roof and gave investigators enough information to, as has become a legendary instruction in police circles, “Go Get Fat Boy.”
Earlier this month another more secretive, yet just as efficient killer fell through the roof.
Rod Collins is the newest Melbourne killer to be publicly named, thanks to the lifting of recent court suppression.
Although not exactly the most flattering of pictures, Collins (aged 67) is suspected of striking up high double figures in the contract killer game. Included in his list are people from right across the country and all walks of society, including gangland lawyer Mario Condello, executed in his mansion after two other hitmen on route to kill him found themselves in cable ties with MP5s pointed at them by men in black helmets and jumpsuits. Those two hitmen didn’t just fall through the roof; they were dragged through it.
Collins is also a prime suspect in the murder of a husband and wife, shot in their home after it became known they had become key informants in a drug case with alleged links to police corruption. Although Collins fell through the roof a while back, currently serving time for another murder, he may well have a few more floors to fall through.
In the Australian underworld Melbourne is known for a long history of professional hitmen or contract killers. Men who finance their personal hobbies (be it breeding Poodles or painting landscapes, womanising or snorting cocaine) through a murder-for-hire enterprise.
But with so many contract killers having fallen through the roof over the years, it remains to be seen or known just how many more are out there, whether they will evolve and learn from their past ancestors, or in which manner they will eventually fall through the roof.
Will they come to the attention of police and risk exposing a contract? Will they outstay their welcome and become an unprotected species, a target of their own kind?
Or will they literally fall through a roof, covered in plaster while the target and his friends sit around, stoned as mullets, wondering if the alien-drug lords have sent them a gift in the form a misguided sky-diver covered in cocaine?
I guess only time will tell. One thing that can be certain is that the killer will have most likely grown up in Melbourne and possibly underestimated the heat inside the roof and (without a water bottle) pass out at some point before completing his final mission.
That’s if he’s lucky.